“I’m terrified to pitch my services.”

September 20, 2006

The Scream One of my clients recently said this – and this fear of “the pitch” is common in all sizes and types of organizations. On a board and asked to raise funds? Ouch, I’ve got to – like – ask my friends for money?? Looking for funding for your start-up? Yes, you’ve got to “pitch” to investors or banks. Trying to generate revenue from your business? Yep, somebody (and more than one body) needs to buy from you.

But, here’s the thing. The less you focus on “selling” the more you’re likely to close the deal. The old hard sell (and cold calls) just don’t work. So, relax. You don’t have to be a “killer” sales person. Focus on connecting with the person, having an interesting conversation. Personally, I find the less I worry about the so-called pitch, the more business I close. So, by all means fine-tune your value statements, learn how to listen, learn how to write a presentation or plan that fits the audience…but forget the canned high-pressure sales jabber.

Related Post:
The Non-Profit Elevator Pitch

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Work backwards

June 27, 2006

One of my pet peeves with the standard strategic planning process is the focus on the organization – crafting a mission statement and then determining how to achieve that mission.

Here’s a thought – use a specific audience as your starting point instead of your organization. What do they want/need? What compells them to become (stay) your customer/client/supporter? It’s a sure bet they don’t care about your strategic plan measurements.


The Power of Humor

June 2, 2006

Friday’s thought: “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”– Oscar Wilde

Well, I don’t know if they’d actually kill you – but I do know that a little humor makes virtually any interaction easier. After all, most of what we do in business (and life) isn’t really “life and death.” When you’re getting all riled up, stop and think, “Will anybody care about this in five years? Or even five months?” As Wilde also said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”

Back in the day, when I was managing large groups of people, I found I got my best results when I used a light touch and encouraged laughter. (It’s also good to be able to laugh at yourself; we all need that perspective.)

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Immigration & You

April 28, 2006

Recently, I had the greatest experience with INS—while conducting a routine Criminal Background check, I discovered the social security card provided by newly hired employee actually belonged to someone else. The new employee also …provideed an immigrations card as proof of employment rights.

So, I called INS and found out that….the social security card and the immigration's card were frauds.  The INS investigator came out, not with any intend in hurting the company but in the role of an educator and learn I did…

 I-9 documents must be provided within 3 days of hire…

If you hire immigrants, that's great – but keep in mind that the I-9 requires you see two forms of approved ID and the ID must be original, not photocopies…

The person validating the documents, must sign and date the I-9 form…

Certain forms of ID have expiration dates, immigration cards (green cards) for one, you must keep track of the renewal dates and re-verify…

I-9's are not filed in the personnel file, they must be kept in a separate file or notebook…

If you keep copies of the documents, keep those separate as well…

To the degree you can, watch addresses, in the incident described above, the new employee that presented us with fraudulent documents, lived at an address where several other immigrants lived, the INS gentleman verified that every piece of documentation we had on 5 employees were fraudulent—I wiped out a full labor pool in one feel swoop!! 

The good news, INS helped us and commented on our process and record-keeping and that the documents were excellent copies and that few of us would known they were frauds.

The Non-Profit Elevator Pitch

April 27, 2006

elevator I freely (and often) admit I’m an old bleeding heart do-gooder and yet, many non-profits pitches leave me – well – both unmoved and un-bleeding (if that’s a word). So, when I ran across this post, The Nonprofit Elevator Speech, it really resonated with me.

Here are her key points:

1. Don’t just repeat your mission statement. Mission statements are often “pie in the sky” or full of buzzwords that don’t actually say what you do.

2. Tell us what you do and who you do it for. Donors want to know how their support makes a difference on the ground.

3. Share a quantitative result. How many people did you help last year? How many acres did you save? Whatever it is you measure, throw in a stat about your accomplishments.

(Personally, I like the small card Habitat for Humanity sends out that shows what my contribution will buy – $10 for a box of nails and so on.)

4. Provide some perspective. Put your work in context, in one sentence. Why is what you do so important? What’s the scale of the problem?

5. Spell out the opportunity. Complete this sentence: “With some additional resources, we could . . .”

I’d add: Don’t get too obsessive about making your pitch short. (The ol’ “seven words or less” and “bumper sticker” ideas that float around.) No, you don’t want to read ’em a book, but you do want to tell them enough to get their interest. Maybe they’ll even ride along another floor to find out more (then, you’ve got ’em!)


Why aren’t there more women bloggers?

April 25, 2006

Trevor Gay over at Synergy recently interviewed me about this topic, since I think blogging is a great tool for both business and life.

There are more of us out there than first appears. Unfortunately, some of the most popular femme bloggers, such as Michelle Malkin, set a terrible example. Bad writing, irresponsible posts and a complete lack of common courtesy. Popular isn’t always a good thing.

For more about women bloggers, here’s the interview.

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Rediscovering Excellence

April 25, 2006

Tom Peters has rediscovered “excellence” and in Siberia of all places. Seems the Excellence guru got just as sick of the word as we did over the years. Now, he’s gotten back to the core of the meaning. And, his post about Siberia reminds me that, despite all the doom and gloom in the headlines, there are good people doing good work all over the globe.

One of the best trips of my life was to the old USSR, back in the days of the so-called Evil Empire. Turns out that empire was full of people with hopes, fears, and joys. And, most were very friendly and eager to learn. Too bad more of us can’t travel overseas; it’s a real eye-opener, in both business and life.